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Forest/Plant Health Spatial Scientist

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Arboriculture, Forestry, Horticulture
Location England (South East) - UK
Salary Additional Information £35,870 - £38,842
Salary (Minimum)
Salary (Maximum)
Type Fixed Term and Permanent Roles
Status Full Time
Level Mid Level
Deadline 02/01/2023
Company Name Forest Research
Contact Name
Forest Research logo
Also Listing:


Forest/Plant Health Spatial Scientist

Reference number: 252804

Salary: £35,870 - £38,842

Appointments to Forest Research are made at the entry level of the salary quoted above except in exceptional circumstances where a candidate's experience and skills may justify a higher starting salary. New entrants to the civil service will be expected to start on the minimum of the pay-band. Normal pay on transfer rules applies for existing civil servants.

Job grade: Higher Executive Officer

Pay Band 4

Contract type: Fixed Term

Length of employment: 2 years

Working pattern: Flexible working, Full-time

Location: The role can be based at the Northern Research Station, Roslin EH25 9SY or at Alice Holt Lodge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LH. Please be aware that this role can only be worked in the UK and not overseas.

Job summary

Want to work at the cutting edge of environmental science?  Passionate about making a difference and playing your part in tackling the climate and nature crisis? Forest Research is all about giving top quality evidence and advice to policymakers and practitioners to make a positive impact on the ground. Internationally recognised, we need people who have the skills and passion to work on excellent science and provide practical solutions for nature.

We’re small enough that your voice is heard, yet large enough, as part of the Forestry Commission, that we have everything on hand to get the job done, as well as a variety of career pathways.  Our staff are dedicated to their work and sharing it with others to bring positive change for our planet.  And you will find us a flexible and inclusive employer, so you can have a work life balance that is tailor-made to your circumstances. So, whether it’s climate or carbon, pests or pathogens, behaviour or biodiversity that interests you, you can be assured of a warm welcome to the team.

To find out more, visit forestresearch.gov.uk

The Tree Health team provides applied research, advice, and management support on established and invasive tree pests and diseases to a wide range of stakeholders and is committed to protecting and promoting forest health. Within this team, we are looking to appoint a two-year research post to help develop a novel horizon-scanning method for identifying potential threats to UK forests, within the context of ever-increasing pressures from non-native pests & diseases, and a changing climate.

Horizon scanning for key threats to principal tree species

This project will use UK data and data made available by partner organisations in Canada, the USA and Europe to develop a horizon scanning method to identify and map likely future threats to British-grown trees. Key biotic and abiotic factors impacting the growth and survival of tree species within their native and planted distribution will be determined (including pests and pathogens, climatic stress, poor soil conditions, and provenance type). This will enable better predictions on risks to UK-grown trees now and under future conditions, the resilience of different provenances to be assessed, and targeted surveillance and research activities to be identified. Various types of data analysis will be employed, such as climate-matching techniques, analysis of provenance trials, pest/pathogen distribution modelling, and modelled impacts of climate change. This project will be conducted in association with the Canadian Forest Service in particular, capitalising upon expertise and knowledge of tree health professionals working within the native distribution of two key conifers (Sitka spruce and Douglas-fir).

Job description

Work as part of a small team within FR to develop original research and horizon scanning methodology as described above

Independent working as well as effective interaction with the team will be essential

  • Build on findings of previous 4-month pilot project
  • Review scientific publications and unpublished literature; capture and summarise key information
  • Regularly interact with North American collaborators, identify, and contact additional stakeholders and information sources in the UK and abroad
  • Access, interpret, and organise key data and metrics on planting trials, tree health and performance from a range of sources
  • Statistically analyse and interpret a range of data types, including spatial data, using the R coding platform
  • Manage, share, and archive code and data responsibly for quality assurance purposes and to facilitate collaboration
  • Perform climate matching and predictive modelling using existing models
  • Knowledge exchange: summarise, present, and discuss findings with funders and other stakeholders; lead and co-write reports and papers to disseminate results; develop data visualisation approaches to communicate research findings

Person specification

Essential Criteria

  • Honours degree with substantial content of forest science; environmental science; physical science; soil sciences or biological sciences or equivalent experience
  • Postgraduate qualification (MSc/PhD) in an appropriate area of study AND/OR significant, relevant professional experience, ideally involving forest, climate, ecology, or risk modelling in a research environment
  • Proficient R user and coder
  • Excellent organisational, data handling and record keeping skills
  • Experience in handling, analysing, and modelling quantitative and spatial data. Experience using and interpreting climate models
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, exhibiting clear evidence
  • Evidence of working independently and in teams
  • Demonstrated management of projects and/or own research
  • Experience of building collaborations with a range of stakeholders and partners
  • Evidence of effective literature reviewing

Desirable Criteria

  • Clear understanding of forest management principles/provenance trials
  • Experience of complementary research skills or applied forestry trials
  • Knowledge of biotic (pests and diseases) and abiotic threats to trees and forests
  • Competent user of GIS systems for spatial analysis using both vector and raster data


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Delivering at Pace


Your career

Excellent professional development opportunities which are tailored to your role, with paid professional membership subscriptions, mentoring, and Civil Service Learning available to all

access to world class laboratory facilities, as well as state of the art buildings within forest or science park settings.

Your work/life balance

  • Flexible working options such as: up to two days flexi leave per month, blended working, part-time working, paid special leave, career breaks, and unpaid leave. Parents and carers will be supported to enable you to manage work and family responsibilities
  • A generous annual leave allowance of 25 days per year, rising to 30 days after 5 years (pro-rata for part-timers). Plus 2.5 days of additional leave and 8 days’ paid bank/public holidays

Your wellbeing

  • Wellbeing support and staff networks and including Mental Health First Aiders, Rainbow Canopy (LGBTQ+) and an Employee Assistance Programme
  • We want you to feel part of something bigger and we encourage a community feel in our workplaces, with everything from cookery competitions to Pilates and fell running, plus topical talks at Wellbeing Wednesdays and Feelgood Fridays
  • Paid volunteering leave of 3 days per year so you can give back to your community and charitable causes by sharing your skills and time

Your benefits

  • A highly competitive Civil Service Pension where employer contributions are up to 26% of your salary
  • An employee benefits scheme offering discounts on groceries, gym memberships, holidays, days out, online retailers and high street shops
  • Cycle to Work scheme and Interest free loans
  • Free parking is offered on-site, alongside electric car charging ports
  • With maternity, adoption, and/or shared parental leave there’s the flexibility to have up to 26 weeks full pay, followed by 13 weeks statutory pay and a further 13 weeks unpaid leave. Paternity leave of up to two weeks is available with full pay.

Any move to Forest Research from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. This includes moves between government departments. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax-Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles and will assess your Behaviours and Experience.

Closing date: 2 January 2023

If a large volume of applications is received, then we will sift on Experience/Technical Expertise and the Lead Behaviour Communicating and Influencing. However, candidates will be expected to answer questions on all behaviours at the interview stage.

This is a Fixed Term Appointment for 2 years with the possibility of extension or permanency but no guarantee.

Candidates who are judged to be a near miss at interview may be considered for other positions in Forest Research which may be at a lower grade but have a potential skills match.

Contact point for applicants

Name: hr.services@forestresearch.gov.uk

Email: hr.services@forestresearch.gov.uk

Recruitment team:

Email: hr.services@forestresearch.gov.uk

Further information

Our recruitment process is underpinned by the principle of appointment on the basis of fair and open competition and appointment on merit, as outlined in the Civil Service Commissioners’ Recruitment Principles. If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with these principles and you wish to make a complaint, you should in the first instance contact FR HR Services by email: hr.services@forestresearch.gov.uk you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can contact the Civil Service Commission, which regulates all Civil Service recruitment.

Apply link: https://www.civilservicejobs.service.gov.uk/csr/jobs.cgi?jcode=1825007

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